Art of training fast twitch and slow twitch fibers?

Learn the Art of training fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers


I am stuck at a plateau by constantly training my fast twitch fibers, though I strongly assume that it is due to lack of non-training of my slow twitch muscle fibers. I would appreciate if anyone could give an example of your way of training both types of muscle fibers.


Fast twitch fibers are very thin/small and they require faster repetition movements. They are mostly used during the concentric phase. Slow twitch fibers, however, are used during the eccentric phase and these are the fibers that actually give "bulk" to the muscles.

The best way to train both the fibers is by doing pyramidal sets. This is what I always do, start lifting weights that will allow you to do 15-17 reps since this will be a comparatively light weight, so complete the repetitions in a fast motion, I mean that the concentric phase should be fast; however, since the weight is light, so there is no point in doing the eccentric phase slowly in this set. This lightweight will not affect the slow twitch fibers. The idea is to be in a constant range of motion.

Then in the next set, increase the weight so much that will allow you to perform only 8-10 reps. This time you focus has slowly shifted to the slow twitch fibers so you should do the eccentric phase very slowly in a controlled manner (because that is how the slow twitch fibers are triggered). Again, in the next set increase the weight so much that will allow you to do only 6 reps or so. Continue to increase weights until failure, do a total of 5 reps (including the first warm up set with 15 reps).

Anatomy of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers
Anatomy of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers
Anatomy of muscle fibers
Anatomy of muscle fibers
Running for training slow twitch muscle fibers
Running for training slow twitch muscle fibers
Muscle fibers chart
Muscle fibers chart

What happens in the pyramidal sets is that it triggers both kinds of muscle fibers.

For large muscle groups like legs, back and chest, the best way to train "SLOW" twitch fibers is by doing excessive amount of running/bicycling, rowing (machine rowing) and pull ups and pushups respectively.

Fast twitch fibers are able to produce much greater speed and are the ones you need when you need explosive power in your movements, so these fibers are developed for sports such as power lifting, etc. These fibers are used during the concentric phase of a repetition

On the other hand, slow twitch fibers are slow-reacting, and therefore are better tailored for endurance related sports such as bicycling, running, etc. These fibers are triggered in the eccentric phase of a repetition.

Most often, bodybuilders focus ONLY on the fast twitch fibers but the development of slow twitch fibers is also necessary.

Slow-negatives (eccentric phase) which triggers slow twitch fibers create twice as much as damage than pushing/pulling movements (concentric phase) which mainly uses the fast twitch fibers.

Second thing is slow twitch fibers retain their size longer than the fast twitch fibers. You might lose some fast twitch fibers due to catabolism, etc., but losing slow twitch fibers is very difficult.

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Comments 16 comments

Kenneth 7 years ago

I'm a football player and this is usefull info, thankyou.

soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

It's my pleasure Kenneth. Thanks for the visit and comment.

jade 7 years ago

this is really helpful to me ! thank you

soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

You can read my other hubs regarding the same kind of info.

expectus profile image

expectus 7 years ago from Land Downunder

nice hub, great way is to go Heavy and High Reps :P but it can be tough on your body . you need plenty of recovery time

soni2006 profile image

soni2006 7 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Yes many exercise needs some recovery time but these exercises need much more recovery time. I agree.

Sheldrock 6 years ago

funny how u state that slow twitch muscle fibre contributes to "the bulk" when in fact it only contributes 7-22% of the actual muscle volume. That bodybuilder in the picture actually has underdeveloped muscle fibre because the characteristics of slow twitch muscle fibre on the outer skin actually contributes to the most definition on the outside. That bodybuilder is a lack of proper full motional aerobic exercise which makes his muscle look blocky as a result of only training fast twitch muscle fibres a and b. You sound like an experienced person because u have found what works for u but when it comes down to raw university facts, ur website is not a good source

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soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India Author

Hi Sheldrock, thank you so much giving me some feedback. You are right I believe in writing on things that what have worked for me and I have some personal experience with, but the above things have not only worked for me but many of my friends and also visitors on my bodybuilding blogs and hubs but then also there are individual viewpoints that differ from others and that has been the case with you. Some things work for you like raw university facts and somethings have worked for me and others like things mentioned in this website.

David 5 years ago

Muscles do not grow when training slow twitch fibers..., marathon runners would be huge, the "bulk" is from fast twitch fibers, ie sprinters.

the king 5 years ago

shelrock shut up

advice 5 years ago

Sup guys, sheldrock, there's no point being so mean, you're not fully correct in everything you said either.

Soni, a slight correction to what you said, eccentric training does add bulk to the muscle and is essential for successful training, but that is not only concentrating on slow twitch muscle fibers, slow twitch fibers only activate after a long period of time( like you said, long distance running etc.) and take a long time to fatigue, this happens after 6 - 50 repetitions, the higher the repetition range of your exercise, the more slow twitch muscles the body uses yeah?

eccentric training adds bulk yes, not because it is concentrating on slow twitch muscles, but because it has more resistive force due to gravity pulling the weight down and it tears down the muscle fibers even more when you try and resist gravity over time yes? im sure you feel it when you train.

slow twitch muscle fibers actually don't add bulk, it adds endurance to your muscles, like rock climbers, they have to maintain a stationary position for a long period of time, this concentrates on slow twitch muscle fibers, the more you have, the longer you will be able to hold the position. same as planks and exercises that need to be held for a long time.

to the guy who posted the question. when you hit a plateau, it means that your body has gotten used to the exercises you do and the repetition range has not changed in a while am i correct? plateaus dont happen because of slow or fast twitch training, plateaus happen because the body has gotten comfortable with the exercises you do.

to beat the plateau, you need to change things up and throw your body out of balance, this sends shock to the body and it will need to work harder in order to fight this change. so if you change your repetition range and up the weights, or the pyramid system of training, it is a change to the body right? that's how you fight plateaus. strength training is a very good way to go to blast past your plateau(training below a 5 rep range but increasing the weights to 85-95% of your 1 rep max) this will send your body into shock and you will definitely see a difference in your strength gains and muscle density

Sandels 5 years ago

Never seen such a confusing and wrong article about muscle fibers.

Fast twitch are the bigger fibers, quick to fatigue and are activated more during the eccentric portion of a lift and in anything requiring high speed or strength.

Slows are the small ones which are used in activities which are low in intensity, such as holding the posture.

nl22 5 years ago

BAD SCIENCE! fast twitch fibers are larger and are only activated when an exercise requires them, the body wants to conserve energy and because slow twitch fibers are fatigue resistant and require less energy to function they are the first muscles the body turns too when it is asked to do a task. If the exercise is easy, low intensity, slow twitch fibers will go to work. Therefore the activation of slow twitch vs fast twitch is determined mostly by the intensity of the exercise you are requiring the body to do. When trying to gain size fast twitch fibers are the fibers yo want to train because they are larger and will contribute more to muscle hypertrophy. The way you train these fibers, i.e explosively or slowly or both, will ultimately determine whether you see power, strength, or size gains.

nkl 5 years ago

Agreed to beat a plateau you need to switch up you routine. Training large muscle groups, Lifting heavy and at a moderate to high volume with shorter rest intervals has been shown to increase hormone levels especially in men. The increase of testosterone and growth hormone may help to facilitate gains in muscle size. But remember genetics can play a big role in how big a muscle can get, so not everyone is going to be capable of looking like a bodybuilder.

Seth 4 years ago

If u have been training ur slow twitch and want to get faster as a sprinter can u turn the slow twitch fibers into fast twitch?!...... If that makes sense

Arencey11 4 years ago

Guys, I'm sorry but you've spent too much time talking to highschool coaches and reading internet blogs.

I know there are tons of sites out there that say fast twitch fibers are bigger, but I'm telling you if you actually ask a buff guy or experiment for yourself you will find that training the slow twitch fibers will lead to far superior mass gains.

I'm saying this from real world experience, training the slow twitch fibers is the only thing that has ever made me buff, it is the only thing that has made everyone I know buff.

Besides that, I know huge 240lb marathon runners sitting at 6% BF. I'm sorry but I think this is a load of bullocks made up by some very narcissistic sprinters.

I'm thinking people are a little too quick to beleive this lie because the Average person has only trained fast twitch fibers for sports. Try doings Bicep curls in a controlled fashion as opposed to a quick explosive fashion, I guarantee that you will feel it more in the slow controlled fashion. Peace

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